The Wild West


Over the course of several weeks, our family road trip in the Little Guy Max took us from our home in humid Alabama to the wild, arid West. The environment could not have been any more different from the subtropical Deep South that we were used to. And we absolutely fell in love with it.

Desert flowers. Mesas. Cacti. The most brilliant sunsets. I never realized just how beautiful the desert could be, but after spending two weeks in Utah with my family in our Little Guy Max, I have a newfound appreciation for it.

“Desert flowers. Mesas. Cacti. The most brilliant sunsets. I never realized just how beautiful the desert could be…”

We started this section of our journey in Zion National Park. Our first glimpse into the park rewarded us with sights of bighorn sheep and mountain goats casually balancing on the sides of near vertical cliffs. We embarked on the iconic Narrows hike, wading carefully through the water as it carved its way through a towering slot canyon. My son delighted in meeting the cheeky, fearless squirrels that populate the park as I surreptitiously shooed them away, eyeing their sharp little teeth. We retired each evening to our phenomenal campsite on the banks of the Virgin River, where we sat in the shallow water catching tadpoles and picking out our favorite river stones. We opened the windows in our Little Guy Max to let the cool desert breeze waft through as frogs sang us to sleep. It was perfection.

We hated leaving Zion, but we were eager to check out the red canyon and hoodoos of Bryce, and it did not disappoint. Less than two hours drive from Zion and the landscape was utterly changed, the soft pinks and muted greens giving way to a brilliant burnt orange. We camped under ponderosa pines and cooked s’mores on the stove inside our Max, wary of the dry conditions and campfire ban throughout the state. (We’re happy to report that s’mores taste just as good when roasted over a burner.)

From there, we towed our Little Guy Max to another incredible hike — the Kanarraville Falls. It was one of the tougher hikes we’ve attempted while carrying our son, but also one of the most rewarding. A grueling climb, an ankle-twisting march through a knee-deep river, and several rock scrambles finally led us to the most beautiful slot canyon I’ve ever seen.

We continued our journey north to meet up with family in the Tetons. We were sharing a beautiful, sprawling lodge… but I have to say, I missed sleeping in our cozy Max. Once you get used to living small and spending time in a tiny home, anything bigger just seems unnecessary. After a few days of relaxing and just taking in the expansive views, it was off to the pinnacle of our trip: Yellowstone.

“Once you get used to living small and spending time in a tiny home, anything bigger just seems unnecessary.”

We towed our Little Guy Max through herds of bison (who stood unconcerned in the middle of the road as tourists passed them). We skirted the edge of crystal blue Lake Yellowstone and passed by steaming geysers and hot springs. Elk. Bears. Inquisitive little marmots and pine martens. Everywhere we looked, there was something incredible to witness.

“Elk. Bears. Inquisitive little marmots and pine martens. Everywhere we looked, there was something incredible to witness.”

This was the farthest point of our family road trip – from here, we headed back south into Utah for one final adventure in Moab before turning east. Our favorite hike here was at the beautiful Grandstaff Canyon. Yet another desert hike, and still this was even more different than the others we had done. We passed cacti, wildflowers, and numerous birds and lizards as we scrambled over the slickrock and stream to our destination — the sixth largest natural arch in the US. The pool underneath was little more than a puddle due to the drought, but our son loved playing in the cool mud. At the end of our hike we watched buckets of red dirt wash off of us as we showered in the Max.

Leaving Utah was bittersweet as we watched the red cliffs fade behind us. But we had one final leg of our journey to make — starting with the Colorado Rockies.

Stay tuned for the final installment of our road trip and our final thoughts on traveling with the Little Guy Max.

 

Kristin Hinnant
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